Skip to main content

The art of narrative deferral: Madani’s L’histoire peut attendre


L’histoire peut attendre, the sole novel authored by celebrated Moroccan poet Rachida Madani, is a complex, if not confounding, work, one that contests and overtly muses upon the implicit and explicit tenets of narrative construction. From the outset, the author weaves a text that catches readers off guard and keeps them off balance as they grapple with an amalgam of poetic invocations and personal reflections, antithetical assertions and images, dueling narrators, and a commingling of the fictional and the real, the past and the present, the physical and the metaphysical. The framing narrative, the macro-text, depicts the comings and goings of fellow passengers on a train, but no figure of prominence emerges among the throng of traveling companions to draw or sustain the reader’s focus for any length of time. Though these fellow passengers are occasionally targeted for extended commentary, none prove to be aesthetically significant. What does emerge from these chaotic and mismatched threads is a deep and sustained probing of the creative process, its muteness, its inexpressibility, its unruliness, as well as its purgative potential. This complex meta-textual enterprise encapsulates the self-sustaining production of non-mimetic referentiality and invites us gradually, progressively, compellingly to confront a stunning poetics of perpetual deferral and of infinite regress.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Khalid Zekri (2006) takes note of the subversion of conventional generic categories by a number of contemporary Moroccan novelists. This experimentation may be attributed in part to the influential journal Souffles, a 1960’s era journal that called for a literature of experimentation, inventiveness and creative abandon (82).

  2. On the problematics of textual closure, see the insightful, if differing, perspectives of Miller (1981) and Riffaterre (1979).

  3. Marc Gontard (1981) points out that this inverts the typical paradigm of a male writer and a female muse (63).

  4. Suellen Diaconoff (2009) takes note of the importance of the storyteller in Moroccan society (59-79).


  • Diaconoff, S. (2009). The myth of the silent woman: Moroccan women writers. University of Toronto Press.

  • Gontard, M. (1981) La violence du texte: étude sur la littérature marocaine de langue française. L’Harmattan.

  • Madani, R. (2006). L’histoire peut attendre. Éditions de la différence.

  • Miller, D. A. (1981). Narrative closure and its discontents: problems of closure in the traditional novel. Princeton University Press.

  • Riffaterre, M. (1979). La production du texte. Éditions du Seuil.

  • Zekri, K. (2006). Fictions du réel: modernité romanesque du réel au Maroc, 1990-2006. L’Harmattan.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. J. Muratore.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Muratore, M.J. The art of narrative deferral: Madani’s L’histoire peut attendre. Neohelicon 48, 631–638 (2021).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: